Monday, December 15, 2008

Dream Home Joshua Tree


photo by Tom Kennedy

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mathematics and the Poet


Combat ready poet (2002)

[With fore and aft excerpts from "Charles Bukowski Screams from the Balcony, Selected Letters 1960-1970"]


"There is always this sense of futility and disgust that you have been hammered finally into something which you do not want to be, and as long as you are conscious of this.. you are going to be pretty generally unhappy... This is sad but it makes me glad I've written a few poems today... I do not want attention. I want myself and they are tearing the arms of my mind apart."


What now for the poet?

Will the looming crash kill him too?

Will the mean needs of food, clothing & shelter

(Buzzing gnats to the soul who wants only to write)

Finally do him in as the suburbs empty out?


In the neighborhood of his sister's rental house

(The bank took her home in March)

There are sad signs

Abandoned pets wander streets as

One in six houses stare mouth agape

Empty windows reveal empty rooms

People driven out by

Mathematics


Unlike many, the poet was good at mathematics

But found he cared much more for feelings

Pursuing the latter doggedly in poems and prose

He clocked two decades of pen & ink

For pennies

For mathematics, as with a woman scorned

Shadowed him bitter

Confounding success


But Lady Mathematics is busy this December

Busy as Santa and all of his elves

Busy as a the lone Grinch with a grudge

Busy taking

Turning out dogs

Pounding REPO signs into unmowed lawns


She's readjusting the equation

Taking more from the middle than ever

Calling it vital measure

To save the banks and auto makers

Pounding out badges and guns and truncheons

Hiring more police from the pools of newly jobless

More police to protect us

From ourselves?


No

From the Joneses

You know, used to live next door

Slightly higher credit rating

Cause enough for righteous envy

Now living with the kids in a minivan in the Wal-Mart lot

Possessions packed pathetic in rooftop marshmallow box


Now Mr. Jones has dreams riddled with desperation

By orange arc sodium light of sleepless night

He tacks down the list of questions that plague him

Recalling a long-forgotten equation

From Mathematics was it?

No, English

The five W's

He has answers to none


At the party goods emporium

Mathematics is a myth

Recession pure charade

In the festive aisles it is the Eighties again

The poet dons dozens of silly hats

Affecting appropriate accents to please his nephew

Eight and suspiciously serious for the

Mardi Gras and Pirate booty aisle

The boy finally cracks a smile


When from the myriad colors and themes

The child chooses army junk

The poet refuses

Explains why

The child persists

So the poet extracts a promise

If I buy you this army costume, will you promise

Never to join the military when you grow up?

The boy agrees


In the parking lot

With the battery dead

The boy gets a lesson in how to push start a car


Back at sister's house

The poet gets a lesson in

Irony?

Humility?

Absurdity?

The boy's father, it seems, may soon join the army reserves

Having exhausted other options for saving the family


Somewhere in this poem

Somewhere in the middle

The poet had occasion to wonder

If perhaps Mathematics

As busy as she is

Had forgotten him

That he might breath a sigh of relief


She hasn't

He won't


Like a loan shark

Like a mafia don

Like a terrorist

Having failed to kill him

Mathematics now hunts his loved ones.


Poetry seems so pointless now

Like an adult promise exacted from a child

Not to go to war, not to die for nothing

Poetry is futile


Don't believe it, brother. - RSM


"Poetry must be forgotten; we must get down to raw paint, splatter. I think a man should be forced to write in a roomful of skulls, bits of raw meat hanging, nibbled by fat slothy rats, the sockets of musicless staring into the wet ether-sogged, love-sogged, hate-sogged brain, and forevermore the rockets and flares and chains of history winging like bats, bat-flap and smoke and skulls ringing in the beer... The fact that the poets of the world are drunk is a damn good indication of its shape."

[Fore and aft excerpts from "Charles Bukowski Screams from the Balcony, Selected Letters 1960-1970"]


Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Prayer that says it all

Bless you, William Burroughs, for this fine prayer that gives me a smile every time I hear it this time of year.
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dentata Morbidium

With thumb and forefinger flanking larynx
Feel the essential pulse that
With its quiet promise
Buys us everyone those things most ethereal
Most important, least tangible

Bouquets of time like wild columbine blooming
Sonnets of serenity and space fathomed
Chocolate boxes of surprise and wonder
Rings of love boundless
Feather beds of dreams

Now picture shooting rat poison straight into your neck
Imagine killing all the little children inside you
Each a cell a-dancing
The dance of regenerative life
Killed with the poison of neglect

At the speed of blood a-pumping
Nowhere in the body is far from the brain

But James!
You gulped down death with every swallow
Never mind the candy necklace of myriad pills
The 30-packs of Milwaukee's Best Ice
Never mind the endless chain of hand-rolled unfiltered smokes
Never mind the dope, the coke, the codeine cough syrup
From crooked docs cross the border

Your head was full of bacteria, brother!
Full of madness not intangible nor untreatable
But easily extractable!

Yet from rotten root to gums to blood
The wretched stuff went rampant
Septic
Systemic

No more time like wild columbine
No more sonnets or surprise
No more boundless love nor dreams

Bad teeth killed you dead.

But "Death not ends it," Jim Morrison said
Maybe so
But severed - yes
From me
From us
From all who loved you

From all new friends and opportunities and light
From all I opened up to you
By inviting you into my world
After first descending in yours
Like the film about the gynecologist brothers
One following the other into morphine addiction
Knowing no other way to reach his identical twin
Than to follow him in

Down the rabbit hole

James!
I miss you terrible
Come back!
Return Lazarus James!

Together we will check into Betty Ford
You can run rings of Jamesian logic round the nurses
With your colossal IQ and sardonic dry desert wit
We will fly to Oaxaca
For no other reason than it has a funny name
And on the way to the surfside palapa cantina
We will stop at La Dentista
and shout "Pull them all out!"

A blood bath it will be
But a damn fine affair
Our own oral menstruation
All that evil bacteria
All that single cell madness
Will leap from you
Like a million toxic fleas
From a dog on fire

Suckers for pain
We will rub the salt on our gums
Then knock back fine tequila and
And toothless, proudly suck the limes

Because the only absolute in this life
Is that death separates

So we will drink hearty me James
Because no vice could ever kill
A colossus the likes of you

It took and enemy more insidious
Hiding there in plain sight
Smiling at us
Smiling through the mirror at you
Teeth
Rotten to the core

Imagine shooting rat poison straight into your gums
Blue chemical toilet treatment
Cyanide

I think of New Zealand poet Janet Frame
A mouth full of dead wood at age twenty
Got her eight years of electroshock hell
She got off easy
You got dead

Dentata morbidium

Or perhaps this is all just bullshit
The imaginings of a deluded poet
And a well-meaning nurse
That really it was your mother who killed you in the end

I'm back in Bisbee now
A year and some months hence
Sitting a stone's throw from One Arizona Street
Where last night I peered in your bedroom window
My palms warm on the flat cold glass
I sat by the the fire pit we made together
Sat on your back stoop
Summoning conflagrations from the storehouse of time

It's all there still
Cleaned up yes
Made nice-nice for the benefit of real estate
But our bonfire energy - ha!
That will never be doused
Let the buyer beware, eh?

My first thought was to buy the place
But you left no will
And your mother who you say despised you
Pinched rich and bitter with empty hunger
That oft comes of too much money
She took it all
The alleged millions left by your father
Still in probate when you died
Everything
Right down to your little house

And at one hundred fifty thousand
It's too much for this poor poet
With credit like a napalmed jungle
It might as well be a billion

But I can dream!

Which reminds me
Of the little game I've been playing with myself
Denying the logical source of my recent ear infection
That long dead molar
Too long awaiting the money for root & crown

Tomorrow I will walk into Mexico at Naco
Have Martinez yank it out

They still let you keep your pulled teeth in Mexico
I will keep it then and clean it
Glue it in my art car
On the alter I made just for you

I will give it a name
I will call it James.


- copyright Rick McKinney 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eat your heart out Bill Bryson

I hear that Bill Bryson's admittedly quite humorous tale of his half-assed hump of the Appalachian Trail is about to be immortalized on the big screen. Do I sound jealous? I might be, if not for the occasional letter from a reader such as the one below. Every time I start to feel a little down about the obscurity of my own Appalachian Trail tale, something magical happens. This time, the magic's name was Sara. Thank you, Sara. You made my day. And you will continue to make my day whenever I take a moment to reread your lovely words.

"I've been enjoying Dead Men Hike No Trails, reading in fits and spurts, hiding the book from my bosses who don't know I'm heading to Georgia in March. (I haven't finished your book. But I'm about half a bottle of wine in and feeling a little spooked...) Your tale is intimate, and thankfully so, because who better to tell about how much I've savored this read, than the author? And how often does the reader, especially an anxious one like myself, find it necessary (let alone possible or comfortable) to write the author?

"As your words walk through my home state of Massachusetts and my obnoxious roommate yells around the kitchen, I have my haven of the book and my music. When you wrote "transfixed by Radiohead's Pyramid Song" I gasped and physically threw the book to my feet. That was the song playing on my iPod. So in whatever event coincidence is, whatever forces bring music and reading and dreams together, I appreciate this otherwise superficial connection with you. Thanks for making that possible." - Sara Haxby
(Read Sara's blog!)



Give someone you know the gift of the freedom of six months in the woods this holiday season by picking up a copy of Dead Men from independent booksellers Powells.com, or from the author at Jigglebox.com should you desire an autographed copy.

Also, if you have read Dead Men Hike No Trails but not reviewed it, please take a moment to say a few words about it purely on the level of did you enjoy it, did it inspire you, etc, at Powells.com, a vendor I'd much prefer to see readers buying it from than the big corporate A-hole-a-Zon.

Thank you. -RSM

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Corvette off the starboard bow!

Early this morning
I awoke not fully
Thus fully aware
Of where in dreams I wandered.

I was on a boat, a warm wooden ship
One much larger than the fiberglass sloop
On which I daily wake
On which I awoke this morning
Lolling on the wake of early boats a-passing

There were many people aboard my boat
All living in a cooperative way
Companions of a wonderfully quirky sort
Not one of them handsome in a cover model way
But every one aglow with a kind of inner contentment
That made them lovely in their way
And pleasing to behold

Among them was Barack Obama
Who came often to our floating refuge
For relief from a world desperately in need
Of rescue

At some point just seconds before I awoke
A voice hailed me and I ran topside to see
A late eighties copper colored Corvette
Come floating up on a current warm and swift
"Corvette off the starboard bow!" I shouted
And all hands reached out with poles to stop it
From hitting us broadside

With kind eyes my companions smiled
And did not chide my blurted blunder
(It was stern not bow)
So typical of this writer
Whose eloquence on paper
Escapes his oral command
Mumbles dyslexic and obtuse
What's the use?

In dreams I am a captain
Benevolent and smiling with buddha nature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Literary Ebb & Flood

Rick McKinney



The past week has been a bumpy blur of botched plans and dizzying indecision. I was driven for all the wrong reasons to travel 1000 miles to my own personal City of Bad Dreams, due to depart over the weekend. I was going to help a friend with his business for a few weeks. Yeah, me. Writer. Junk artist. Dreamer. Business.

But my feet, which were supposed to have walked me to the train station Saturday morning, were moored deep in the mud of a mean mental ebb tide. I couldn't do it. But I couldn't rationalize why I couldn't do it. Anyway, a wise friend helped me realize that unwarranted guilt was my greatest driving force. With guilt extracted from the equation, the waters of the Pacific flooded back in the Golden Gate, filled the bay and freed me from muddy mind. I unplugged the shore power, cast off lines and went sailing instead.

I say all this to preface the fact that I haven't written in days, never a good thing for me. But I have had sweet moments aplenty. I've been immersed in books lately, great wonderful works that take me far afield of my own silly little nonsense troubles. I have four books going right now. Wonderful stuff. Great literary works all. While the foolish warlords running my country are busy replicating the financial fate of Spain after the Spanish Armada, I'm having my own personal literary renaissance!

And not just as a reader. Thanks to a lovely letter of praise the other day from a woman reader of Dead Men Hike No Trails, I am reminded of just how fortunate I am to be not only a writer reading writers but at once a writer being read! Sometimes I forget.

And then there's Jigglebox. I go to Google and type in Jigglebox + whatever subject of my vast jiggle rants I'm seeking, and the strangest most interesting things come up. Today I was in search of something and came upon this link.

My Weird Life & Luci in the Sky with a Smile

I read it through like one who'd never read it before and found myself nodding in agreement with the writer. Odd little irony, that.

Next week, it being the American Library Association Banned Books Week, I am intent on poring over as much of the following list as possible in the space of a week. Being a slow reader, I couldn't fathom getting through them all in a week. But I will sample them all, savor what I can, and come back later to finish those that grabbed me.

I'll need a place to start among them. Because I am a particularly sexual person currently living a particularly monastic life, perhaps I'll start with the sexually explicit books. Oops! That's nearly all of them! Ha! God Bless the Freedom of Speech. Addled thought it be, long may it live for all humanity.

Read On! - RSM

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group


2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence


3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The fleeting floating barrier island dream

Words like "flattened" and "scraped" lop over the gunwales of my skinny little sloop on WiFi waves from the gulf coast of Texas today.

Such definitive language and plenty of daunting imagery strain my hope that friend Stefan's Rollover Bay beach house on Bolivar Peninsula survived Hurricane Ike. Strain, but not collapse. Not yet anyway. There's always hope.

Then again, looking back at Jigglebox.com at my writings from the winter I lived there, I am reminded that to Stefan's mind, the house lived on borrowed time:

Thunder from the East and Stefan speaks of this beach house pink & purple painted stilt stork house as though it weren't even here anymore.

More troublesome are the numbers, figures of how many people stayed behind and how few are yet accounted for. My mind fills in the blanks. After twenty five years without television in my life, my imagination is very much in tact. And so the mind wanders.

And the wind begins to blow. The surf writhes and the water rises like a tide hell-bent on rising to meet the moon.

The crawfish rain from the sky and a thousand hardy Bolivar tough-out-the-storm residents take to the sea in Barcaloungers as an etherial aquarium screen saver swells out of their buoyant television sets in radiant projected imagery filling living rooms with walls once solid now melting into salty night like Maurice Sendak's dream-jungled bedroom of little boy Max who preferred the company of monsters to his mother.

What a daydream. What a drag. What a surreal event is this life, existing on the edge of strange and raging organism.

Earth.

And Jeliza-Rose goes deep sea diving with her daddy, and the house goes down, down, down. This a short YouTube clip of one of the more trippy scenes from one of my all time favorite films. Terry Gilliam, of course.

This article from the NYTimes posted just a few hours ago mentions Rollover Pass, complete with video and slide shows. If I'm not mistaken, the oil pumps pictured in the beginning of the video clip titled "High Island After Ike" are the one's from a favorite little story I often tell friends of my time on Bolivar with Stefan.

Back in 2002, Stefan told me he'd passed the praying mantis-like pumps time and again driving out to his family's beach house since childhood and often imagined what it would be like to climb up and ride one. That was the end of the story. The beginning was that I'd egged him into pulling over there one day, shouting "Let's ride those fuckers!" Up the pumps we scrambled with true irreverent gonzo grit. They're bigger than they look and not a little scary as they buck and curtsy with menacing moans, their creepy tendril straws stuck deep and sucking the blood of the earth far below. Somewhere, I have a photo of Stefan riding one such pump under power with his white cowboy hat flung high in one hand in true buckin' bronco style.

Now that would have been a helluva shotgun seat to ride out raging Ike.

I went digging deep in the muddy backwater of old hard drives and assembled this little photo album of images from my Bolivar days. Alas, no shot of the oil pump ride. Just hafta imagine that one.

- RSM

Friday, September 12, 2008

Strange Dreams from Rollover Bay


As Hurricane Ike lurks over the gulf coast of Texas tonight, my mind goes back to a beautiful place, a strange time spent writing and contemplating life at friend Stefan's beach house on Rollover Bay, a tiny spot on the map now likely smack in the cross-hairs of Ike. Six years later, I go back and visit Rollover Bay in the writings from that time and am thoroughly transfixed. Rolling back into old Jigglebox.com pages is for me, their creator, a dizzying little dose of carnival ride vertigo, fun and a little nauseating as I remember that yes, I wrote all that and I posted it, and yes, it is still there. With any luck, Stefan's lovely little home on Bolivar Peninsula just east of Galveston will still be there in the morning. There and in tact. I pray. Pray with me for everyone in Ike's path. Even if you're not religious. Pray anyway. It can't hurt.

Here then is the recollection of a somewhat magical, somewhat eerie dream from my website Jigglebox.com from "Narcoleptic November," the rants from my time on Rollover Bay. And yes, I said Rants! The blog had not been invented yet. Let's hope this was just a strange and silly fantasy and not a prescient dream.

For Stefan with love and well-wishes. - RSM

November 4, 2002
Rollover Bay, Bolivar Texas -
Coffee. A hot shower to counter the deep, damp chill left by last night's crawfish boil storm. Oooh, what a storm it was! The bay boiling, the Cajun winds howling ghosts of hungry dead fishermen, red hot crawdads slappin' gainst the windows like nickel-sized raindrops, and bluesman Lightning Hopkins singing and strummin' on the porch while the gods cracked atoms overhead and the whole night lit up like a roman candle in a craggy coastal cave and Captain Hook was there and I was Peter Pan and I laughed as Hook dodged the sparks of a zillion Tinkerbells and I yelled to a white breasted bird who sat high on a stone shelf pretending disinterest and staring instead at the dark cave wall where the word "Tomorrow" was written in long-dried blood above a pile of a dead pirate's bones, and I shouted up to her, swearing, "I will never stop looking back and forward, too," for the future is the smile of a crocodile, and each new year a deceitful crocodile tear. ''Back to Never Never Land," I hoorah'd to my Tinks, and I accidentally winked and was back in my bed and the crawfish slid down the windows with a flump like the lifeless forms of philosophers at a Paul Pot-Pinochet combo target shoot & barbecue. Flump. And then I woke up. And somewhere in between what I'm about to tell you about house-cleaning and ferrets and such, my eyelids swelled up and fell open like the floppy sides of a kiddie swimmin' pool and I cried and cried and cried for what I do not know. (Read the entire story here)


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wal-Mart Boy outside the big box


Years ago I wrote a film script based on a novel idea I had about a little boy abandoned and growing up "feral" in a Wal-Mart store. Failing for years to realize it as a novel, I wrote it as a screenplay. Failing for years to market it as a screenplay (basically I never tried) I'm considering flip-flopping and turning the script into the book I wanted to write way back in 1995.

Click here to sample Wal-Mart Boy the script.

With all that in mind, I happened upon this clever short film on YouTube. To my fellow brand-loathing, consumption-nauseated warriors, this one's for you:











Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Roz Rows The Brocade


Roz Savage


Hot couple of daze here on the San Francisco Bay. I wither to think of what it must be like in inland if it's this hot on the bay. Yesterday I spent the morning on oven preheat here in my little space capsule sailboat on the water (no A/C, no breeze) hammering ideas and dreams at my computer and dazedly marveling at how a white fiberglass boat deck could absorb so much heat from the sun. In the afternoon, I traded one heat for another at the laundromat after pushing my scant clothing supply a few days too far. Returning grumpy to the water around five, I contemplated a cooling sail, fell somnolent instead and surrendered to a late afternoon nap.

In the turbulent half-sleep of a hot afternoon, I dreamed that I'd exercised more courage that day six months ago when I came across Roz Savage working on her boat in dry dock on Alameda Island. I dreamed that I had acted on my instinct about the pretty woman working on the obviously long-distance rowing craft and introduced myself. In the dream, she happily showed me her boat. We became friends, dining together often on my boat. We swapped stories of epic quests, her long row across the Atlantic for ocean pollution awareness, my some-3000 miles of walking to combat suicide, in myself and others. I was there sailing alongside her as she rowed out the Golden Gate for her lonely three month voyage to Hawaii. I told her how brave she was, that I could never make such a journey alone again, having scoured the depths of my own solitude to the breaking point and returned in tact. To my surprise, Roz found that a laudable thing. We were heroic to one another. We were fast friends. It was as things should be.

In fact, I never met Roz. I was still deep inside my head just six months ago. I still am, but I'm working on getting out now. Day by day. But I see Roz clear as day in my memory of a lonely detox winter spent bicycling Alameda to keep sane. She glowed lovely then, a vision of something bigger than mankind's capacity for ugliness, mysterious at a distance but inspiring all the same. In some weird way, I knew she was on a quest. It just jumped off the pages of the book she is writing, that she is manifesting, just by living well and grandiose. She is Amelia Earhart in a little rowboat, a woman inspiring women, inspiring all who take notice. She is one little person doing giant things one stroke at a time.

Roz, if you can hear me across the Internet, across the ocean, past my dream-recollection of my friendship with you, I say hoo-rah and thank you. And to my cousin Justin dealing with heavy life issues in New Hampshire I say hang in there, Brother. In the words of the young protagonist in Reidar Jonsson's My Life As A Dog, "Sometimes it helps to compare."


photo: Eric Gay/Associated Press

It helps me to constantly reflect, compare, triangulate if you will, with people less fortunate than I (think: anyone from New Orleans currently stuck outside their home city) and with people like Roz. What bravery. What conviction. What a simple idea. What a monumental achievement.

Keep rowing. - RSM

Read all about Roz at her website RozSavage.com



Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav Flaubert was all hot air

I was pleased to arise early this morning and see that Gustav got week in the knees just before hitting shore in Louisiana. Hooray! Everything's gonna be all right. I'll be the first to admit I'm a little reactionary, a tad excitable. Now if those levies will just hold strong, the National Guardsmen can pack up their shit and head to the Middle East where they're REALLY NEEDED!

Yeah, whatever. Now that God has spared New Orleans, I can be sarcastic again.

God help us.

On that note, I was fishing around Craigslist San Francisco today looking at rideshares and sailboats and w4m's when I stumbled on a rideshare posting which, though I wasn't really planning on going to Portland tomorrow, kinda makes me wish I was. Mick Overman looks like he'd be a very interesting man to road trip with. And I dig the tune. Hope you do, too.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jules & a prayer for New Orleans

Julian Stock

Julian Stock, 2003


I'm worried for my buddy Julian Stock down in New Orleans. He's a tough nut, but nobody should have to cope with the kind of shit coming down on New Orleans for the second time in three years. And if I know, Jules, he may opt to stick it out this time. He may choose not to abandon his post which, in its abandonment for Katrina, likely feels now all the more important to stand firm and protect rather than watch helplessly from afar as it molders to ruin.

Jules is an artist, builds Mardi Gras floats for Royal Artists in a warehouse near Napoleon and Magazine. Chaos and Hermes are two parades for which Royal builds floats. I had the honor and pleasure of working alongside Jules in the months leading up to the 2002 Mardi Gras season. Those were a couple of the most brilliantly colorful months of my life (click HERE for fun photos posted back then - hint: flip the coins), and I have missed New Orleans ever since. I had a bad premonition of disaster in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) during the final weeks of my Appalachian Trail thruhike in 2004. It took a year for that premonition to catch up. And when it did, I wanted to be there in some way for the friends I'd made there. But I never got there. Like all the aid we as a nation have promised NOLA since leaving them high & damp in 2005, I never got there.

It's hard to give one easy answer to why I didn't return. I don't really know. Life. Other life got in the way. Publishing and promoting Dead Men Hike No Trails. Getting through another suicide in my close circle of friends. Paddling the Mississippi River in my unrequited Dream Catcher Expedition. Losing a best friend to cancer a year later. Obliterating sensation for much of last year to cope with all the loss. Then came a detox to cope with life again.

Now as Hurricane Gustav looms in the Gulf of Mexico, I wish I were there with Jules.


Watch this New Orleans tribute video posted 3 hours ago.

I wish to hell I'd headed down there right after Katrina or anytime since to lend some kind of aid if only in moral support, and if only to Jules in his campaign to survive and rebuild where many didn't or couldn't. Then I would be there now. We could ride it out together.

If I thought they'd let me in down there, if I could get past the National Guard troops, if I had press credentials, hell yeah I'd go. It's just my kind of gig, just the sort of thing for which I trained at the Gonzo School of Hard Knocks. See chaos? Run headlong into it with Crackberry in one hand, bilge pump in the other.

Instead, I can't even reach Jules. Lost track of him during the past year. I hope he makes it through this in one piece.

My heart goes out to Julian and everyone in NOLA, especially those who made my experience there so singularly unique and memorable. To Jules' brother Chris, who was displaced after Katrina destroyed his home, I send out a big hug and well wishes. I miss you both, sons of Robert. (click HERE for my ode to the Stock brothers & their family back in 2002)

I'll be here, on the water across the bay from your birthplace, Jules, holding vigil via the Internet, following events via YouTube and individual blogs like those on Metblog New Orleans. And, as I was during Mardi Gras six months ago and am most every day I'm online at home, I'll be tuned in to the live web stream on WWOZ.

God Bless you, brother.

- RSM

ps: Duke sends his love, too!

Duke the Art Car



Friday, August 29, 2008

Stricklandia & the freak in the fern headdress

Rick McKinney
photo: Mike Strickland

I plan to one day give Mr. Strickland his due in props. But for now I need to at least point you in the direction of his great travel web log Stricklandia and his late July posts about his trip to my dad's cabin on Moose Pond in Maine. The photos had me rolling this morning. I dunno. Maybe you had to be there. It's a hot day here in San Francisco, third day in a row in the high 80s, low 90s. So if the Moose Pond photos don't do it for ya, it's still a great day to go diving with scuba man Mike via his YouTube dive footage.

Totally Keanu aka Getting Loose with Looci

The cat ate flimsily
passing out on the highway
between the there and the not-there
(ching, ching, ding)
The sign told him so
"I'ma smoka cigarette"
said the pink cashmere cat
to the black smoke typewriter grill
(ringaling, ding)
The bike ate radiator juice
Space island or spice island
either one
Spoon fork copulation on a
polyurethane table top day
The tree crookilly had insects in its nest
I made pieces and then I made tops
"He wouldn't even
give the whore a hairpin."
Purple woman with gypsy silver big ringathing (ding!)
Red trucks zip noisily into the unknown
I knew a guy named dong once
sung Michael Jackson sunset
Irish-Puerto Rican dream
Digesting birds and recovering fast
Pffllt!
Half-n-half, whoops, I'm spilling Wow!
Money machines like rats
where Italian vendors once stood
The sky crumbles under the mountain
This is not how I thought I'd be spending
my Monday afternoon
Three torches, 32x on a box
and Doritos, cornflakes
Coca-Cola and BBQ tofu burger
burger burger meister man go
The instrument by making sound
muddles sound flow
No, the chime girl says
Takes her brown bag parcel of when
walks out into the dwindles
of a new year's night.


[Composite poem by Myk Loutzenhiser, Luciano Lenchantin, Chrissie Sarvela & Rick McKinney]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Someday again Matilda

Someday I want a certain still from the Luc Besson film The Professional to hang on the wall of my writing studio. The shot I want is of two pair of shoed feet, those of Leon (Jean Reno) and the young Matilda (Natalie Portman) as the two embrace in the office of bad guy Norm Stansfield (Gary Oldman) in the DEA building in New York. Portman's Matilda is so little against Reno's Leon that her feet as they embrace hang a good foot off the floor. It is endearing to me, this shoes-only disembodied essence of their strange and beautiful love. I have been in love with this Besson film since it came out in the mid-nineties.

I named my beloved pet ferret after Portman's character in 2001 after she came to me from an animal shelter under the most extraordinary circumstances (not unlike those in the film). Just an infant, Matilda the ferret was found by police amid a stockpile of guns in a motel room after her owner, a paranoid schizophrenic, was arrested for wandering armed and delusional down old Route 66 in Albuquerque.

At the time feeling more than a little crazy myself, I remember having a deep empathy for the man who, scared into a gun collection frenzy in a desolate motel, had with him a baby girl ferret to keep the demons at bay. This told me a lot about the man, or so I thought. More than that, it told Matilda's story and gave her a magical glow. When I removed myself from my mentally unhealthy relationship there a few months later, I took Matilda with me to New Orleans. She died of kidney failure just a few months later.

In the Leon-Matilda scenario from which my dearest pet got her name, it should have been me who gave my life for her. Alas, there was little I could do for my much tinier tiny little girl pet after the vet sentenced her to death. That was seven years ago. I haven't had a pet since.

I was about to say I haven't had a girlfriend since, either. But that isn't true. I haven't had one that's lasted longer than Matilda lived, which was less than a year. That much is true. And none have filled little Matilda's shoes. No no. Not one.

-RSM

Saturday, August 23, 2008

James, soon to go his own way

Just rambling around my bone closet of photos, equally dusty and full of spooks, I found this shot of the bunch of us gathered 'round the trailer home hearth a few months before James departed for foreign shores. I post it here as a reminder. Thou art mortal. Live well. Live now.

And the winged Underlord of Bisbee is watching over us, greatly amused.

This, my latest weird addition to that benevolent brain trust of video in the sky, YouTube. It's a star-studded cast, but is really only worth watching for its last interviewee, who as always, riffed off the top of his head like a pro: James Hull the Late & Great.

R.I.P. Lord Hull









Friday, August 22, 2008

Monsters in the Closet

At the behest of a friend, I have opened the door to a long-ignored closet of poetry and begun digging around in the bone pile. As I review the old stuff, it is with a lot of head-shaking, sighs and a severely critical inward eye. This same critical eye has nearly paralyzed my efforts to promote Dead Men, now not a new book but still the only published product I have. As with the poems, I wrote it, I purged. It's done and over. I struggle to want anything to do with it anymore.

But then, shit happens. And all this shit did happen to me. And my prime coping mechanism over the years has been the pen, especially when wielded without a lot of forethought or attention to structure. Just "the poems" as Bukowski modestly referred to them. The smattering of poetry on my somewhat forlorn web site Jigglebox.com is anything but a representative sample. There are hundreds and hundreds unpublished.

Having said all that, I just posted one now nearly a decade old. I see some irony in it now so many years hence. For one, it was written just blocks from here, from the marina where I now live yet still feel hardly at home. It was written during my first and perhaps most ardent attempt to call the San Francisco Bay Area home in the early months of 1999. That attempted Bay Area resettlement was a failure, but it was a colorful one.



I find it ironic and not a little sad that as my mental health was headed for a big crash in those months, all around me dotcommers my age and younger were making fortunes. But as we now know they, too, were headed for a crash.

I could have used a few million bucks heading into my Saturn Return(able) Thirties, that decade-long depression now thankfully behind me. Shortly after this poem was written, I scored jobs with two different dotcom companies. Brief but nonetheless fun and exciting, they afforded me an inside look at the magic kingdom before the bubble burst. Never mind that I was spending lunch breaks on Point Emery staring out at the bay and balling my eyes out for no good reason. I have fond memories of my moment in the stock option sun, my psychological deterioration notwithstanding. Haha.

Blah blah blah. Here now is the poem at it's new home on Jigglebox.com.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gatsby Come Lately

I'm just kidding. Do read.

Read!

And don't read just any pulp page turner.

There are countless sources on the web to direct you to good reading, the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list is just one example. And you don't have to spend a lot of money. Heck, most of these great books can be found at your library, ergo, for free.

I almost never buy books at full retail price. The rare exception: when the author is still alive and would benefit by the dollar royalty from my purchase, or more importantly, when the author is standing right in front of me.

Growing up I was a slow reader. My mom invested heavily in helping me excel as a reader including hiring me a reading tutor in high school. And though I conceptually understand to this day how to speed read, I still read only slightly faster than a good typist types. So what? So it takes us slow readers longer. So what if it's taken me my whole life to begin to catch up with what I might have wolfed down in a few semesters of college as an English major. I'm enjoying every little bite.

The language of the Great Gatsby is as amazing as I've often heard tell. I feel gypped that no wise mentor or friend placed it in my hands many years ago. It took being a student of Hunter Thompson, watching Hunter and a slew of others close to me die, and finally climbing out of the anti-depressent fog I'd been in (partially to cope with all this death) to comprehend that this was the work that inspired Hunter. Now I'm getting it. And man, what a treat. Just bask in the language of this descriptive passage that seems to come out of nowhere early in the book, seemingly utterly unnecessary in the context of the story and yet oh so perfect.

Hopefully, most of you are long familiar with Gatsby and will find my belated discovery of Fitzgerald ironically quaint. Fair enough. Here then is the passage, as new and beautiful to me as it is old and exhaustively analyzed (yet still stunning) to academia.

From The Great Gatsby:

"About half way between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes--a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of grey cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud which screens their obscure operations from your sight."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Read Therefore I Am

Books, books books. All spring and summer I have had my nose in books. Where a few years ago it would have quite regularly been found in a bush, now it's in books. From topiary to literary. I can't even recall all the titles. Moby Dick, The River Wife, I Was Amelia Earhart, Legends of the American Desert, The Perfect Storm, The Grapes of Wrath, The Iron Rooster, Fahrenheit 451, Immortality, The Great Gatsby. That is what I recall without effort.

And all the while in my travels I have been asked "So, what are you doing these days?" And always, although I could respond with the aforementioned reading list or any number of other interesting and fulfilling activities such as becoming a practiced sailor or even just say "writing," I tighten up inside and squirm out some awkward or defensive answer that is utterly beguiling to me upon later reflection.

For it is work that people want to hear about, or so it seems to me. They want to hear what you're doing to make money. And that's all they want to hear. It was pointed out to me by a close confident recently that I ought by now have a patterned answer to give, especially to relatives. I'm talking about years of being asked the same question, hell, a lifetime! And still I bumble it.

But there is an upside to this folly. And that is this: I do not do the same to others. Instead, I ask people, especially those of whom I have some foreknowledge of their employment status or lack thereof, I ask: so what are you doing that you enjoy? Or if I don't know them at all: so, what's your passion?

And saying that, I am reminded of what my cousin's roommate Dennie would likely to say to such a thing:

"That's gay, Dude."

No doubt he's probably right.

Don't read books, folks. Watch more TV. I stopped long ago and look what it's done for me! Total social retardation. This year marks my 25th anniversary without TV in my life. As I noted recently sitting with a friend in a bar and trying to make conversation with the patrons, without a hearty knowledge of TV, you're in trouble. Add to that an ignorance of all things sports, and you may as well give up and go sail around the world alone.

As some wise writer from this summer's pickings said (I think it was Paul Theroux), people don't talk about anything. Not anything of substance anyway. Children are the exception to this rule.

Where was I? Onward, into the valley of Death...

We're gonna be immortal, kids. Just you wait and see.

- RSM

ps: click the book cover above to sample some of Jane Mendelsohn's magic


Thursday, August 14, 2008

the bay



photo by Kate

back on the left coast.

rural nh a sweet dream of night now
half forgotten in shock of return.

cruel amnesia.
crude awakening.
big city.
bedazzling beauty of bay as I sail her.
homeless people everywhere, insane and right in my face.
radiohead sings my life below decks, the boat vibrating, delighting my trembling heart.
security guards outside banks, po's, bus stations.
fear is now ubiquitous.

the BB&RB circus comes to town, their mile-long train of dreams crawls past my marina sleepy slow.
the elephants trumpet airborne tb into the crowds, they say.
oh, joy.
tiny waves lick the hull and rock me gently to sleep.
billboards flashing like tvs grab my eyes on the 12-lane interstate back from airport.
snowy white egrets, pelicans, and other rare birds whirl and dive around my boat home.
starfucks where yesterday there was my beloved dunken d's.
hose shower in the heat of sun on my dock in my johns, my long hair fanning sunlight like the jesus figure in penn's pathos-heavy mccandless postscript, his death & masturbation epic.
ambulance and police sirens arrow into my head from street level, helicopters overhead.
peace in the bow berth womb bed, given such a bad rap by me, quiet now below waterline.
solace here.
and terror.
finger food feast for dinner.
hungering for love.
hope in abundance.
a mind constantly checking itself asking "am i broken beyond repair?"
where?
and where?
and where where where is home?
help me god.
help me children of tilton.
remind me of what matters.
focus this maddened mind.
brilliance broken.
scattershot thought.
the smog of two months away settled on deck like soot.
san francisco is a dream to behold.
i behold it from the bay.
i be.
hold it.

the bay.
the bay.
if this keeps up.
i will die here on
the bay.

rsm 2008

Aw! Did I poop on your pinole? We can't have that. Whack this!


I Got The Power! Who will help me focus?


Click My Pic to hear & Feeeeel da Powwa!


Currently accepting proposals from anyone capable of channeling/distributing & managing my personal power before my brain explodes, benefiting no one.

And because Senor Sayulita requested it, a poem from the archives:

Purple desert bed flight


Flying
God how I love to fly
Face flat on a purpled desert bed
Chest heaving
Breathing a little softer now
I close my eyes to the music
And set sail on the winds of my mind.

To an earlier time
That first morning of a deliberately sleepless night
That’s me down there walking on the sand
By the Pacific in the dazed light of dawn
Then in a flash
Unticketed
Naked flight in the blink of an eye
To New Hampshire
To Winnesquam.

I am the squall
I am the waterspout whirling
Twirling over the womb-like waters of endless childhood
The boy me in a little boat rowing
On a gold-leafed lake at dawn
The sun blinding as Heaven itself
The adults sleeping off hangovers inside
I’m alone
I’m rowing
Golden, immaculate
The lake simmering
Steaming in the early sun
I fly on.

Diving now
Seeing straight down the path of a train trestle leap
Squatting ecstatic beneath the waters of the damn
Precious in the way small things are
Crouching water kid
Hidden boy beneath the falls
Down river from the cabin on the lake
Our cabin
The cabin that’ll never be sold
Never renovated beyond the point of recognition
Home to that McKinney Dynasty
A century of souls and fire-lit faces
Names carved in hardwood beams
Above that smoked stone fireplace
Old gallant stag leaping out.

God how I love to fly.
In the warm wake of orgasm
That sweet bonus of growing up
That makes bearable
So much loss.

She returns now
Takes me in hand and
We begin again
Led Zeppelin howling haunting
Holding open corridors in the air
Like some stereophonic Moses.

And I'm airborne again
Soaring
In my head
On our purple-sheeted
Heated
Desert bed.


(copyright 1999 McKinney)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Gonzo In Lochmere

Once we were warriors.
Justin Alessandro, circa 2002

Making the McKinney Kids Scream: Uncles Ricky & Justin score a hit

Here in Tilton, New Hampshire this week, I had the esteemed pleasure of babysitting my Uncle Bob's four young children while he and wife Holly went out to celebrate their anniversary.

Though the kids call me "uncle" (no doubt owing to our vast age differential) Daniel, David, Toby and Abby at 10, 8, 5 & 3 are in fact my cousins. And they are a delight. Wow, what a delight! I was able to tell them today, as we parted ways after a solid week together, that though I wouldn't be joining them for church tomorrow, it didn't matter. Why? "Because," I told the four of them piled around me on the couch this afternoon, "you children have given me more love and warmth and enthusiam and positive energy in a week than I have felt in years, and THAT is church to me." I thanked them and packed my bags and went on my rolling stone way, never telling them (not wanting to raise their hopes lest I not deliver) how sincerely I wished I could move in down the street from them. And who knows. I might. If I have earned anything in this life, earned and preserved, it is my right to change my environment at a moment's notice. For kids such as these, that right would be well worth all the pain and struggle to have kept it.

But I digress. The point of this pointedly brief posting was to post a video. It's the video that set Daniel, David, Toby and Abby screaming with laughter when I played it for them on the night of their parent's anniversary. It is a video shot and edited by my brother-cousin Justin a few years back during my love affair with the Appalachian Trail. It is a blooper in every sense of the word. A lucky error, lucky that no one was hurt, and lucky that Justin was there to capture it on film. It makes me laugh every time. I was so very pleased that the children found it not only equally funny, but downright belly laugh, doubled-over on the floor hilarious.

So this is to you McKinney kids, ye veritably the future of the McKinney name. I love you and thank you. Your laughter and love made my year. And I dare say Justin got quite a hoot out of hearing your response, too. Perhaps it will inspire him to make more shorts. He is a filmmaker at heart. To you, Justin Alessandro. To us.

I give you.. FLAME OUT!

(Perhaps because this isn't a YouTube selection but comes from Justin's MySpace page, it won't embed as such. But PLEASE take the time to click on the link and watch it. You won't regret it!)




Monday, July 21, 2008

New Appalachian Thruhike Record!

New York, NY --
Johann Gambolputty of Niwumb County inadvertently set a new record in long distance hiking this week when he was found hiking in circles in the Catskills. Gambolputty, who is Ocularly Differently Abled (commonly known as cross-eyed), covered 2,175 miles of trail in five months of hiking, as his girlfriend put it "Around and around." Gambolputty joined other long distance hiker luminaries Scott "One Leg" Rogers and blind hiker Bill Irwin in accomplishing a singularly unique long distance hike. Appalachian Trail Conservancy representative Gary Kingfisher had this to say: "Never mind that Johann did all of his Appalachian hiking in a 3-mile circle of trail. He did it for five months! You do the math! It is our expressed mission to encourage all singularly unique hikers, especially the oddballs. Far too many boring thruhikes are completed annually by able-bodied hikers. I say, give us your weird and gimpy! The more the merrier!"

Photo by Michael Strickland

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Hunter Thompson

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.

For a whole generation of writers inspired by prose stylist Hunter Thompson's drug-infused aggro-renegade satire and ruthless key-hammering reportage, these words are a haunting dirge. The sentence they form threatens to sentence us all to mimicry Hell. It is a beginning best relegated to nostalgia, then tossed out in deference to something fresh and new. It is a warning and a trap, our own personal dark and stormy night.

Or maybe I'm projecting.

Perhaps this is just my own personal literary tic and not a problem encountered by other contemporary writers. But I doubt it. There has to be a few hardcore crazies out there with "Gonzo" tattooed either literally (like me) or figuratively, on the skin of their writing arm. They're out there now, hacking away at the keys of laptops and desk tops and IBM Selectrics with gonzo conviction to spike the trees and shred the cutting teeth of the blogsaw currently bleeding the life out of this once noble tradition. Like me, they sit down to write and are hurtled headlong into the desert. The drugs take hold of them, too.

It could be worse. And if one believes Hunter's claim to have never found a drug to get him "anywhere near as high as sitting at a desk writing," then it is fitting. I don't know about the desk part, but there sure are moments when writing is so damn satisfying it confounds description. At its best, writing is a kind of freefall with no thought of landing any time soon. There is no parachute, but there is no fear. Perhaps there is no Earth. A writer on the nod with the muse has Jesus by one arm, Buddha by the other and the winged Pegasus between his legs. He has no fear of the ground coming up, because he is, for a moment, immortal.

Hunter Stockton Thompson voluntarily joined the class of Permanent Immortals (my emphasis – Hunter in fact believed in reincarnation) three years ago February. He'd been kicking around Earth for sixty-seven years. To my mind, his time among us was not a wasted trip. Today is his birthday.

I could tell you what I know about his life. But none of that can't be read elsewhere either online or in one of the five biographies published about him during his lifetime. You would be better served, and I better employed, however, by mention of how the man influenced me.

I began to write in earnest a year or two before being introduced to Hunter Thompson. But it could be surmised that without Hunter's influence, I would not still be writing today. It was in college in my late teens that a teacher first said, "Hey, you can really write!" But it was hillbilly Thompson, the aggressive Rolling Stone writer with the damn-the-torpedoes (and any guise of objectivity) style that said, "Hey, you can write anything you want, and you can make a career out of it."

It was a coworker at Licorice Pizza record store in Carlsbad, California that first noted some similarity between me and the character portrayed by Bill Murray in the 1980 film "Where the Buffalo Roam." I can't recall whether the coworker had read something I'd written or just intuited some relationship. But on his advice I took the film home, watched it, snagged copies of two Thompson books and read them with awe. I was hooked. That was in 1987.

A year later in West Germany I began cranking out a weird little monthly broadside titled "The Gonzo Gazette." With the aid of a friend at the local U.S. Army base, I mailed home dozens of Gonzo Gazettes at a fraction of overseas postage. My part in the outlaw journalist tradition had begun.

My choice of undergraduate studies is owed to Hunter Thompson. And one might say here is where my love for the man's writing began to steer me wrong, where I began to ignore Hunter's advice against any pursuance of his career or example. It seems clear to me now twenty years later that he said emphatically DON'T DO AS I DO. I was young. I did it anyway. I majored in Journalism.

But I wasn't completely foolish. My actions were in fact based very little on hero worship and more on the intersection of Thompson's legacy and my reality.

I was a slow reader. Despite proficiency in other areas, math and writing particularly, I couldn't break out of sixth grade reading level. I feared, therefore, that I would flounder under the heavy reading load of English. And there was more. I felt that I was not like everyone else. The sense of having found a kindred spirit in Hunter Thompson, coupled with the sense that what wasn't good (or bad) for the average joe didn't apply to me, made journalism and okay choice. Would I have studied something else if I had known what horrors lay in wait for a budding gonzo journalist in the tight-sphinctered halls of Humboldt State University journalism department? You bet.

So it goes. Today's birthday boy both turned me on to journalism and ruined it for me, all in one fell swoop. Or I ruined it for myself, as I've explained.

At any rate, Hunter Thompson kept me writing. His work and what I learned of him over the years influenced my own personal ambitions and made me vigilant in the face of ceaseless criticism of my chosen career. In defense of the critics, I never was much of a journalist. I never have had much of a career. But I have kept writing. I've never given up. Despite a constant rain of shit and very little of what you could call success, I'm still at it. Though I never knew him and he thus never knew it, Hunter kept me going.

For years and years preceding his wretched demise, Hunter Thompson pulled me toward him. But as with his advice against emulating him, I ignored the calls. Friends who understood the depth of my gonzo streak were forever suggesting a road trip to Woody Creek. My art car, Duke, a two-ton rolling monument to the gonzo way, severely aided and abetted the call to meet my mentor. "We really have to drive Duke up to Hunter's and chain the car to his gate!" I wouldn't do it. For some reason, I just didn't think it right to bother the man.

If I had to guess, I'd say I was afraid that the difference between the man and the legend would wreak irreparable havoc with my forever more-fragile sense that I was on the right track in life. In truth, it was probably more that I was afraid my mentor would disappointed with me. That would not have been cool.

So, by forever putting off that day, I sealed my fate. I never met my greatest mentor, though I had ample opportunity while he lived. Instead, a day late and a dollar short, I hiked 500 miles to his funeral in some kind of twisted tribute to the man. When I got there, despite a fair amount of media coverage of my walk, I was not admitted inside. I was there, however. I witnessed the explosion that shot Hunter's cremains out over our heads (and doubtless down into our hair) and joined my few fellow gate crashers in song, singing "Hey Mister Tamborine Man, play a song for me…"

If a man's life is a measure of his influence on others, and it isn't too rude to measure this man by his effect on me, then Hunter Thompson lived a hell of a life, and he continues to live through me. He lives on through many, many of us, and it gets weirder and better all the time.

Rick McKinney
Moose Pond, Maine
(Jammed out in an hour on a speedboat in thunderstorm)

Gonzo Mein Herr

Sixty-nine years ago today a great hillbilly was born in Louisville, Kentucky, one Hunter Stockton Thompson.

To say this man had an influence in my life would be one of my more fallacious understatements. At the time of Hunter's death three years ago, I still hadn't grasped the full extent of his impact on me, on my thinking and writing. Despite efforts in the past decade to distance myself from his legacy, I continue to marvel at the evidence of his enduring presence in my life.

With any luck I will find the time today to elaborate on this. For now, however, thank you to Hunter Mann (no relation, or..?) for cluing me in this morning to my mentor madman's birthday, and for this from NPR:




Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Shopocaplypse is Near!

Whoa! I'd forgotten all about that one. Where does Mike find this crazy gibberish? He knows Jigglebox better than I do! In the words of Bill Murray playing Hunter Thompson in that evil 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam that set the course for my adult life (and thus ruined it): "Did I say that? Shit. I must have meant it."

More and more of my words from the past seem written by someone else (and are thus impossible to edit, by me anyway). It's weird. Anyway, thanks for that additional link. I may have said this before but I'll say it again, in Fred's defense, that coast is insane, it's winds deeply unsettling.

Unless you're me, of course, to whom the whole of our Starfucks-Costco-Quiznos consumer-demented society is WAAAY MORE UNSETTLING. Driving through this suburban (and urban) gauntlet of uber-homogenized, aesthetically-appalling, clone consumer "outlets" is enough to make me want to vault my corpus dictum onto the outer perimeter razor wire of the nearest for-profit prison. (I say outlet, though what worldly frustrations could be "let out" by visits to such spiritually-draining environs is beyond me.) And if that sounds crazy, I wonder: how crazy is it to try and escape into prison when the whole ugly-ified civilized world has come to feel like a prison, of sorts? A prison of corporate logos. A prison for your eyes and ears, at the very least. Such environs make the winds and brutal blue sea of the Lost Coast seem all warm and fuzzy by comparison.

I say all this and yet I know what I really need these days, and it has more to do with love and family and friends and increased social contact, to be needed and useful and inside the world again. And I need off this little boat. This writer's life has cast me way too far adrift. I imagine that once safely back inside the world, I could better cope with the glut of Wal-Marts. Maybe even the Starfucks.


But I'd still have to attend regular services of The Church of Stopping. Because the Shopocalypse is near!

Reverend Billy always sings to the lowest prices of my macchiato soul. Never has anyone so boldly articulated my consumer angst. May the Good Lord bless and keep you, Billy.

Tis God's work you do, I say.

Amen.

Postscript: I was well pleased to discover, on punching macchiato into Google to check the spelling, that the word, bastardized by Starfucks, is actually Italian for "stained." Sweet irony! Oh, coffee, how Starfucks hath stained thy good name!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Come on in, the water's fine!


Greetings from northern California's Lost Coast!


As a bona fide recipient of a living-wage grant from the National Endowment for the Creation of Radical Oddities, or NECRO, your friend and author has taken up residence in a driftwood shelter on an austere 25-mile stretch of wind-whipped sand and rabid frothing ocean. Dispatches from my new outpost will likely be less frequent than ever given the sand in the keyboard, the mice gnawing on the modem, the bats, gnats, bears, and bloated sea lion carcasses perfuming the wind with that sickly sweet stench that the nose knows can only be one thing.

Made it out here just in time for the start of the Great Summer of Aught Eight, sure to be a great one if only by dint of human nature's need to put a more vigorous shine on things the worse they get. Give we sapient homos a really, really good crisis and watch us come alive. Forget moderation. Give us $10/gallon gasoline and a potential 100-year war and we'll show you who's boss.

Whatever. Here's wishing you all a wicked sweet summer.

Badger me and maybe I'll write.

Creatively, I mean.

On a wildly unrelated note, for those of you who've known me long and remember my confused young consumerist god-child Wal-Mart Boy, this video clip will resonate. My thought many years ago on the subject: it's only a matter of time. Thanks to Stricky for sending it my way.


And thank you, Mike Marcyes for the Lost Coast photos. It was a pleasure to guide Mike on his first camping trip since Boy Scouts, his first ever hiking trip. Mike held up amazingly well last weekend considering I took him to one of the most forbidding stretches of God-forsaken God's Country in the continental United States, and hiked us in 7 miles on the first day. It was only later that I realized that 7 miles was my first day on the Appalachian Trail, and a tough one at that. Hiking on sand is tougher. For more of taste of the Lost Coast world from long ago unpublished writings of mine, read this and then this.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whipping therapy cures depression and suicide crises

Russian scientists from the city of Novosibirsk, Siberia, made a sensational report at the international conference devoted to new methods of treatment and rehabilitation in narcology. The report was called "Methods of painful impact to treat addictive behavior."

Siberian scientists believe that addiction to alcohol and narcotics, as well as depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic diseases occur when an individual loses his or her interest in life. The absence of the will to live is caused with decreasing production of endorphins - the substance, which is known as the hormone of happiness. If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the "production of happiness" and eventually remove depressive feelings.

Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.

Doctor of Biological Sciences, Sergei Speransky, is a very well known figure in Novosibirsk. The doctor became one of the authors of the shocking whipping therapy. The professor used the self-flagellation method to cure his own depression; he also recovered from two heart attacks with the help of physical tortures too.

"The whipping therapy becomes much more efficient when a patients receives the punishment from a person of the opposite sex. The effect is astounding: the patient starts seeing only bright colors in the surrounding world, the heartache disappears, although it will take a certain time for the buttocks to heal, of course," Sergei Speransky told the Izvestia newspaper.

The whipping therapy has not become a new discovery in the history of medicine. Tibetan monks widely used it for medical purposes too. Soviet specialists used a special method of torturing therapy at mental hospitals. They made injections of brimstone and peach oil mixture to inspire mentally unbalanced patience with a will to live. A patient would suffer from horrible pain in the body after such an injection, but he or she would change their attitude to life for the better afterwards.

"People might probably think of me as a masochist," Dr. Speransky said. "But I can assure you that I am not a classic masochist at all," he added.

The revolutionary method may take the Russian healthcare to a whole new level. The method is cheap and highly efficient, as its authors assure. Why not using something more efficient, a rack, for example?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

MAY DAY! '08

There once was an old lady who swallowed a fly. She swallowed a spider to catch the fly. She swallowed a bird to catch the spider that wriggled and jiggled inside her. Yes. That old song from younger days took on new meaning for me this year. I awoke New Year's Day with the realization that the fly that I taken-to years ago to eradicate from my body the shit of depression, had multiplied. And that's not all. Somewhere along the road from my troubled Saturn Return (if only I could destroy planets with my mind, I'd blow that fucker right outa the sky!), the flies had become those nasty horseflies and their sting required treatment. Some doctor prescribed spiders to eat the flies. I dutifully swallowed spider after Klonipin-spider. When the spiders began to bite, well, the good doctors had something for that, too. Birds. If you're following this progression, you'll have guessed that our birds became, in time, a veritable flock of seagulls.

Now, I'd been drinking socially since age 16, sometimes to excess. We'll call booze the cat. Unlike all the other creatures, the "cat count" in my blood remained, interestingly enough, static and even decreased at times. But to untrained observers versed in the symptoms of only most obvious social drug, the cat took all the blame. Bad kitty! In my growing remorse for all my pets, I hiked my ankles into oblivion on a few thousand miles of American soil, rowed the Mississippi River until I shredded my untrained shoulder muscles, and sailed the San Francisco Bay so hungry for the life that had long ago been denied me by chronic depression that, in my desperation, I hurled myself from the deck of my sailboat four feet down to the cabin companionway T-boning my lower back so bad that I've spent the entire winter as a hunchback. Woo-hoo, as my friend Frank would say. Woo-fuckin-hoo!

So, on the first day of this glorious upchuck-colored year of our Lord, 2008, I quit everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Booze, Prozac, Valium, Codeine, and just to rub salt in the wound, coffee, too. And by shear force of will, I succeeded. Don't tell my mother, but my vigilance nearly cost me my life a few times. NEVER cold turkey Klonipin! It is death in a bottle. Were I of a litigious mind, I would launch a lawsuit so noxious it would poison the very fabric of our pharmacopious society. But I'm not. So I won't.  Anyway, I quit. And four months later, to the day (that's TODAY), I popped out of a nightmare I have been walking around in for dark endless weeks and poof! I realized that if I didn't go back on meds, I was going to die. It was that simple. And that clear.

Friends can attest to my out-of-character teetotaler abstinence from alcohol (not a drop for four months). I exercised regularly, put myself out there to be with friends and be social. I went without all the pharmaceuticals, without beer, without caffeine of any kind for FOUR MONTHS. Oh, clarity was grand, let me tell you! I was the most uptight insane nefarious creepy unstable bug-eyed childish scared and stupid human being you'd ever not wanna know for the duration. Especially in recent weeks. Then today, utterly at wits end after countless bad-sleep nights and morning terrors and queasy uneasy daydream days, I packed a day bag, let a close friend know where I was headed, and set out on foot for the local ER, where I knew I would then be transported to the county psych ward and who-knows-where from there. I was gonzo in the worst definition of the word. Worse, I had that eerie instinctual sense that if I didn't surrender to the medicos I would soon be dead. I walked a couple of miles to the hospital, paced outside the ER, and, being a smart cookie, fast-forwarded in my mind through the whole awful demeaning 5150 process I would be put through, the whole mental instability meat grinder. When I popped out the other side and returned to the present, I turned on my heel and walked away. I couldn't do it. I can't do it. If I lose it, they're gonna have to talk me off the railing of the Golden Gate or peel me off the front of an Amtrak train, because I just can't self-admit any more. I returned home to my sailboat and knew what I must do. I took my medicine. And though one med takes two weeks to kick in, the other is practically instantaneous. I felt better in a matter of minutes. And for the first time in four months, I sat down at my computer NOT to fumble incoherently with email and infinitely confounding web, but TO WRITE! And to post to my website for the first time in who knows how long.

Now I know it wasn't the booze or the drugs, though certainly a return to careful moderation is in order. It was me. It was my body chemistry, my lifestyle perhaps, my DNA. It was me. And it was how my fragile eggshell mind interacts with the reality of our bomb-crazy, human-torturing, war-money-loving, daughter in the basement raping and imprisoning, pregnant marine killing and body-burning, multi-trillion dollar debt crashing country and world and human race. And there's no judgment left in me for me. I just am. And in the meds or death ultimatum, I'll take meds and life. And that's ranting for you. - RSM